Inaugural Issue: Video Stores
Call for Papers / Projects:
Please submit by August 15, 2010
This special issue pays overdue attention to the space of the video store as a site of inquiry for media and cultural studies.
We seek a wide range of works (medium–length essays of 1500–2500 words, digital art projects, audio/video interviews) that explore the significance of video stores — how they have (or have not) figured in film and media cultures, histories, and theories. In short this issue of Media Fields seeks contributions that write the video store into film and media studies.
Video stores have been an overwhelmingly neglected topic in film and media studies. Yet for the past three decades, they have played crucial roles in shaping the uses, developments, and failures of media technologies; in sustaining the film industry through the home video market; and in the very cultivation and distribution of knowledge about cinema itself.
In the past five years, due to a confluence of factors–the Internet's emergence as the dominant medium through which we watch media, the increasing popularity of rental kiosks such as Redbox and online rental delivery and streaming services such as Netflix, and a troubled economic climate in which many institutions can no longer afford competitive prices for rent–video stores have been closing at an alarming rate. The widespread closures of video stores present an opportunity to consider their social and cultural significance for a wide range of communities.
We are open to a variety of approaches and topics, which might focus on industry, technology, globalization, aesthetics, or historiography. Works might draw on ethnography, anthropology, visual studies, cultural studies, film studies, media studies, art history, textual analysis, critical theory, history, sociology, photography, and so forth. We especially welcome works that engage the role of the video store outside of the dominant media industries in the United States.
Questions to consider:
* Is the video store an "archive"? How does consideration of the video store as a space contribute to or alter any of the many conversations in media studies about the "archive"?
* Has the "era" of the video rental store passed? What legacies has it left? What fallacies might such a claim risk? In what forms do stores remain or even flourish?
* What is the significance of "renting" in terms of how we perceive media as commodity, in how we perceive various media technologies, or in how we perceive the space of the video store?
* How do renting practices connect with old and new forms of distribution and consumer practices?
* What kinds of knowledges about cinema has the video store as a space shaped? How might consideration of the video store revise film canons, film histories, video histories, cultural histories, media histories?
* To what extent is the video store, as some media scholars have claimed, a model for the Internet, in its bringing into contact, and keeping alive networks of cultural commodities? How does the Internet represent the end of or the continuation of the video store?
* What relationships exist between piracy and the video rental store?
* How has the video store functioned in relation to other media practices and cultural forms—from music and gaming to fan clubs, snacks and collectibles?
* To what extent can particular video rental stores be read as marking and traversing regional, national, and global boundaries and flows?
Feel free to contact issue co–editors, Joshua Neves and Jeff Scheible, with proposals and inquiries.